Naithin over at Fun In Games started this topic about what causes a raid to just come together. His Post can be found HERE and is definitely worth a read. For those who don’t know about Blog Azeroth already, check them out.
Every so often something amazing happens. There are always forces at work, sometimes they are small, seemingly insignificant and others can be quite powerful in their own right. When these forces coalesce we see extraordinary things happen. The right combination of social and economic factors that came together at the right time destroyed the soviet union; the right mix of chemicals and energy (might have) created life on earth; the unfortunate timing of air pressure, temperature and electrical charge can turn a tropical storm into a devastating hurricane, and a random group of players from across the world can get together and kill a WoW boss 400 times their size. There are a ton of factors that can happen while forming or during a raid that can cause a frustrating wipe or sweet, sweet victory.
Although Blizzard has done their best to make sure we can function on a “bring the player not the class” basis, we all know that an ideal raid comp can help turn a challenging encounter into a loot pinata. My guild, prior to some downsizing during the second half of WotLK had a great 25m crew put together. Despite half of the time raiding of most “progression” guilds on our server, we kept our rank between 2-4th on horde. One of the reasons was the great diversity of classes we could bring to a raid. We had a bear druid, a warrior, a death knight (and occasionally a paladin) tank to bring to the raid. We had two Holy Paladins and at least one priest, shaman, and druid healing for nearly every raid. If there was an ideal healer or tank for a situation – we had it. Of course, we also had a great mix of dps classes and specs to ensure we nearly always had all of the important buffs and debuffs covered. This made sure we had the tools needed to get the job done.
The Human Factor
It doesn’t do anyone any good to have all of the pieces to a puzzle if they can’t see the big picture. All of the best ingredients will never turn into a delicious meal if they aren’t put together right. So what good does our great class mix do if we don’t have the players behind them using them effectively. This starts with organization. Our guild officers are excellent. They set raid times that worked with the guild members, maintained effective guild policies and loot systems, helped members by bringing flasks to the raid (for us to buy, for cheap) and providing the feasts. And since officers can’t be expected to do everything, we also had our couple of theory-crafting, min-maxing players and could help most classes and specs with talent point choices, gear, enchants, rotations and other strategy to be the best they could. Following these officers and leaders is a group of players willing (and able) to take their place in the puzzle and implement the strategies and choices that those who do the math helped them discover. On top of all that, with few natural exceptions, the guild just jived. We had jokes and fun but could shut it when we needed to get serious. To this day we can still take a wipe with a grain of salt and get back to killing.
The X Factor
Most great events or inventions come together when the pieces and players are guided by a little bit of luck. There’s a random element to a boss kill that cannot be measured. Especially relevant to a smaller 10m group, but a factor still to a 25m raid can be the internet. Of course we all need the internet to play WoW at all, but we know the series of tubes is a fickle creature. If your tank or heals has a lag spike or disconnects at the wrong time, a wipe is probably in your future. If the servers are laggy in general, such as shortly after important patches, your timing can find itself missing its queue. On the other hand, your raid might find itself plum full of players with low latency, no power outages and have nothing hindering your synergy. Sometimes that first kill on a boss you’ve been struggling against comes as almost a sublimination. Everything seems to be going wrong, death comes at you from all sides. Then on this last fateful attempt everyone works together perfectly. Heals land just when they should. Everyone moves as a unit out of the fire/void zone/cleave/etc. Adds are managed effectively, cooldowns are synchronized, the clouds part and you can see clearly the goal in front of you. 5% left, everyone is at full health, the enrage timer is just out of reach. 4% no deaths…3% healer uses CD just as tank realizes his are gone…2% the raid is holding its collective breath…1% victory is all but assured.. and… we cut to commercial.
Aren’t you glad WoW doesn’t do that?